Audeze – CRBN
The Audeze – CRBN is the debut launch of the company’s first-ever 580v Pro Bias compatible flagship electrostatic headphones.
In a nutshell, successful MRI scans depend on two major factors, how well the patients react to the loud noises from the scan and the system’s sensitivity levels to electrical noise which can affect the final image quality.
Essentially, the scan depends on a set of high fidelity, accurate and consistent set of ‘headphones’ free of any iron-based metals commonly known as ferrous materials that can create image-altering eddy currents, (loops of electrical current induced within conductors).
Audeze’s response to this problem was the ‘medical version’ of what is now known as the CRBN. You may have seen the images before of what appears to be an ‘upside down’ white closed-back electrostatic headphone.
Inside, Audeze has developed an entirely new transducer using a patent-pending carbon nanotube suspended diaphragm technology to get around the challenge of ferrous-based material electrical distortions.
Electrostatic CRBN Driver
The CRBN driver is a 20mm x 90mm 580V pro bias compatible electrostatic implementation but interestingly, the diaphragm tension is not quite as taught as you would normally expect.
The goal behind this is the bass response, which can be a bane for electrostatic headphone users given how flaccid it can seem compared to planar.
Audeze was able to reduce the tension through the carbon tube technology as it holds a better charge and hence a higher level of efficiency. In some ways, this reminds me of the trace pattern work going into the LCD-5 to also focus on efficiency and an improved performance from its new driver.
In turn, this allowed Audeze to increase the space between the stator and the new diaphragm to allow for stronger excursions, (movement), on the low-end without it touching the stator itself. Combine that with some judicious application of new damping material and earpads should in some way produce a stronger bass characteristic from the CRBN.
The CRBN form factor is a mesh of the old and the new. The old is a variation of the recent Audeze shape and materials for the headband and the new is the big and gorgeous ovoid cup design with its lattice grill aesthetic.
It is probably the cups that will draw your attention to the CRBN first as they are oversized, almost HE-1-like in appearance. However, side by side with the entry-level Jade II cups they are actually a little slimmer and more egg-shaped also.
The materials are a healthy mix of magnesium, machined aluminum for the connector, stainless steel for the rods, and carbon fiber for the headband system. The cup rings follow the new Audeze design language which means a polymer acetate material finished in a blend of dark and light swirls, not unlike the Tortoiseshell effect of the LCD-5 only a bit more nuanced.
The classic rod blocks have returned so the new minimalist LCD-5 rod adjuster system didn’t make the cut on the CRBN. However, it is updated with a much smoother finish and more of a trapezoid shape than the older uniform thinner blocks.
The CRBN uses virtually the same headband system as the LCD-4, save for the new stainless steel rods which are from the LCD-5. The other key visual difference is the leather headband strap which is the same width as the LCD-4 strap but slightly thicker and uses the LCD-5 perforated finish.
The gimbals materials are a black coated magnesium with a more rounded tube-like form factor compared to the flatter lower-profile version on the LCD-5. The screws are more visible but have s smooth finish with no Allen key socket showing.
The articulation on the CRBN cups is excellent. You get a very smooth creak-free 180-degree lateral swivel and a small amount of vertical to adjust very easily for most head shapes. Yes, you can wear them flat around your neck if you truly want to also.
The CRBNs are supremely comfortable, almost on the Elite and Empyrean levels. The pressure balance is just a shade to the lateral side as opposed to vertical for me which is surprising given the size of the cups.
Last Thought about Audeze – CRBN
The Audeze CRBN is a sublime and gorgeous-sounding electrostatic headphone but also one that does not play by the electrostatic norms. A few e-stat cans have tried and failed before to get that bass rumbling and remain a coherent listening experience, the CRBN is not one of those failures, not by a long shot, it sounds powerful yet very coherent at the same time.
Its distinct and dense natural tonal qualities will also provide a very nice contrast to the likes of the cleaner airy sounding Shangri-La Jr which is exemplary in terms of micro-detail.
It is just as well the CRBN is a well-made and very comfortable headphone to wear also because it is quite an easy listening experience and one that will have you trawling through your music content for many an enjoyable hour.
Audeze – CRBN Specification
- Transducer type: Push-pull electrostatic
- Functional bias voltage: 580 VDC Stax Pro Bias
- Electrostatic Capacitance: 100 pF (including cable)
- Diaphragm type: Ultra-thin custom carbon nanotube
- Transducer size: 120mm x 90mm
- Frequency response: 20Hz – 40kHz
- Maximum SPL: >120dB
- THD: <0.1% @ 90dB
- Attached cable: 2.5m OCC monocrystal copper, 5-pin Pro Bias
- Housing: Magnesium, stainless steel, and polymer acetate
- Earpad material: Premium leather
- Headband: Carbon fiber and premium leather
- Weight: 300g